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Senate (U.S.)

Last modified: 2015-03-14 by rick wyatt
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[Flag of Senate - Liberty Cap] image by Sean McKinniss, 15 November 2002

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The official U.S. Senate website states:

The Senate created its official flag in March 1988, four years after it was proposed by Senator Daniel Inouye. In April 1985, the Committee on Rules and Administration invited eight flag manufacturers to submit designs and cost estimates for a flag. A year and a half later, the committee chose the design proposed by the Army's Institute of Heraldry, a navy blue banner emblazoned with the Senate seal. Use and sale of the flag is restricted to Senate offices only.

Two Flags?

Generic flag
[Flag of Senate - Eagle Seal]    
image by Andy Weir, 31 January 2001
Eagle Seal
- eagle by Joe McMillan
Official flag
[Flag of Senate - Liberty Cap]
image by Sean McKinniss, 15 November 2002
Liberty Cap Seal

I asked a Senate historian about the flag to see which seal appeared on the Senate flag: the one with an eagle or the one with the liberty cap? He responded:

You may see Senate flags with either seal -- the eagle seal or the liberty cap seal -- both have been used on the flag at different times. Many offices have chosen the eagle shield flag.
Apparently, there are two versions of the United States Senate flag.
Sean McKinniss, 15 November 2002

The image above (left) is just a generic U.S. eagle with coat of arms used as an unofficial device by Senators and members of the Senate staff. The same device with "United States Congress" is frequently used by members and staffers from the House of Representatives. It appears, e.g., on car window decals, engraved on ashtrays and glasses and other mementos, etc.

I was up at the Senate Armed Services Committee today and can confirm that the actual flag in use is blue with yellow fringe, with the "liberty cap" seal in color (above, right). I didn't have a measuring tape, but (consistent with the fact that the flag was designed by the Army Institute of Heraldry), I'm pretty sure it is the standard 52 by 66 inches as for other U.S. ceremonial flags.
Joe McMillan, 22 February 2001

I can't say for sure that the "eagle seal" flag doesn't exist somewhere, but it is not the official flag of the U.S. Senate, and in more than two decades of fairly frequent interaction on Capitol Hill, I've never seen it at all.
Joe McMillan, 15 February 2002

Senate Seal

[Senate Seal] image by Al Kirsch, 1 February 2001

The official U.S. Senate website states:

"The seal of the Senate, based on the Great Seal of the United States, includes a scroll inscribed with E Pluribus Unum floating across a shield with thirteen stars on top and thirteen vertical stripes on the bottom. Olive and oak branches symbolizing peace and strength grace the sides of the shield, and a red liberty cap and crossed fasces represent freedom and authority. Blue beams of light emanate from the shield. Surrounding the seal is the legend, "United States Senate." The seal is affixed to impeachment documents and resolutions of consent to international treaties. It also appears on presentation copies of Senate resolutions recognizing appointments, commendations, and notable achievements."
Sean McKinniss, 15 November 2002

The U.S. Senate seal as shown on p. 235 of Whitney Smith's "The Flag Book of the United States" [smi75a]. It was adopted 20 January 1886.
Al Kirsch, 1 February 2001

BTW, the Senate site itself says the same actual seal (that is, the physical metal die used for impressing documents) has been in use since the late 1800s.
Joe McMillan, 22 February 2001

President pro tempore

I found an image of a flag for a president pro tempore in USA Today. The PPT flag was not regulated per se, and various Presidents Pro Tempore have had them manufactured with assorted variations in design.
Dave Fowler, 28 January 2007

The flag of the President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate appears to be the seal of the office on a white flag, the blue of seal on the flag in photo appears to be a navy blue rather than the lighter blue on the seal image below. At is a picture of former President Pro tem Ted Stevens, you can see the flag to the right in the photo.

Official seal:
Ben Cahoon, 26 May 2009